Keeping Cool: Community Impact

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Every week in July, Stan Cox, a senior scientist at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas and the author of Losing Our Cool, discusses the world of air conditioning. This week: how air conditioning has changed our local communities and society as a whole.


Stan Cox

Comments [14]

Ivana from Yorkville

I can't believe how easy it is to cool my apartment which faces east and mostly west: just keep the sun out by closing curtains or blinds in the afternoon when the sun hits the building and keep one or two windows open a couple of inches to keep the air moving and I'm done! Even in the heat last week I didn't need A/C! Very comfortable and my Con Ed bill is the same as the winter version.

When I spent summers in Europe I was lucky enough to live in old buildings with very thick walls: very cool all summer.

Jul. 12 2012 11:12 AM
Sharon from Manhattan

Part of the problem with air conditioning is that it creates a mindset of resistance to reality, and perhaps a sense that we deserve to be comfortable all the time. I'm amazed every year at the air conditioner rain falling on the sidewalk when it's only 70 degrees outside.

One thing we could do is to use a/c more sparingly: not just how often we turn it on, but what temperature level we set. This is true even in public places, which really do need a/c more than private homes, but don't need to be 65 degrees. I carry a sweater all summer just to go into stores, movie theaters, and so on.

It's true about becoming accustomed to temperature. On a very hot hike in South Korea, only the Americans were streaming sweat, and the Koreans we passed all laughed at our damp clothes as we walked by. A friend says her mother-in-law in India rarely sweats there, even when it's terribly hot!

GW from Manhattan, I'm wondering if you've even been to Europe, where it does get quite hot. More importantly, why must you express yourself so rudely? It's possible to disagree without being so offensive.

To the show: can you use moderators to remove offensive comments? They really do diminish the experience of anyone reading this site.

Jul. 12 2012 11:09 AM
Jim S from Manhattan

I was drafted in the summer of 1971 and spent July and August in basic training the bayous of Louisiana. The heat/humidity index rarely dropped below 100 and at the start I would walk up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat from the heat. I adjusted quickly and since then, heat has never bothered me. Really hot days are great because you can have the hiking trails and much of the outdoors to yourself. When I moved into my current apartment, the first thing I did was have the air conditioner taken out. Ironically, after my divorce, the first thing my ex did was put air conditioning in almost every window.

Jul. 12 2012 11:07 AM

Wet socks!!! Rinse a pair of socks with cold water, ring out and wear em. It works. I usually only have them on when I'm sitting and can prop my feet up. Give it a try.

Jul. 12 2012 11:04 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

GW--what kind of comment is "europe is COLDER than the USA?" this assumes that the states and europe have uniform temperatures throughout their landmass. where were you when the heat in france and italy topped 100 degrees 20+ days in a row? there is air conditioning in some buildings, but not all. people deal with it, for the most part, but it's not recommended for the infirm there.

get out much?

Jul. 12 2012 11:03 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

not sure one wants to use a misting fan indoors--they're largely for outdoor use (unless you're okay with getting your upholstery and other furniture wet).

otherwise, i lived in france a few years without a/c. fans and keeping the apartment dark, as i do here, do the job just fine.

i'm still creeped out by walking up fifth avenue to open doors letting a/c gush into the streets from large stores. so entirely wasteful.

Jul. 12 2012 10:58 AM
GW from Manhattan

no Air conditioning in Europe?... because Europe is much COLDER than the USA look at the map dude Europe is at a more Northern latitude ... what is with this dude

I guess he is old and has no metabolism and nothing to do ...

Jul. 12 2012 10:57 AM
Jim from NJ

Isn't the real problem with air conditioning the energy use? There's technology like absorption chillers which can be powered by solar thermal collectors which use a tiny fraction of the power of coventional air conditioners and provide just as much relief from the heat. It's the same technology used to make ice in before we had a power grid.

Jul. 12 2012 10:56 AM
John A

What a friend who lived in the tropics had: Polished ''stone'' floor. Some sort of fine polished concrete. Felt great to the bare feet.

Jul. 12 2012 10:56 AM
Frank from UES

Don't forget that the result of sunbelt migration was the de-industrialization of the northeast and upper midwest.
Buffalo, NY, the location of the invention of air conditioning.

Jul. 12 2012 10:55 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I'm not a big fan of air conditioning, but there are times when I have absolutely no choice. I woke up sweating yesterday morning and was too damp to get dressed, so I had to put it on simply to reduce the humidity along with the temperature.

Oddly, I live in a basement apartment, which should be cooler than the rest of the house, but for whatever reason, it is warmer down there in both winter and summer. Also, because of the design, I really have no cross-breeze when I open windows, and when the windows are open, they are at pavement level and lots of debris gets in through the screens.

I really believe that proper design and insulation should seriously reduce the need for air conditioning, but some of us have few options at the present time.

My sister has $40,000.00 worth of photovoltaic cells on her roof and that pays for her a/c all summer.

Jul. 12 2012 10:53 AM

Love the Land Institute! My sister and I both live in Brooklyn now, grew up very close to the Land Institute in central Kansas, where by the way, it was 108 degrees for the entire week last week!

Jul. 12 2012 10:53 AM

Lived in Italy for a while with no AC, I believe the majority of people live this way, at least in the north. EVERYONE had SHUTTERS, new buildings and old. They really worked well to keep out the heat, close them when you leave the house and the space stays much cooler. Not as comfy as AC, but we were so surprised this relatively hot country was not full of AC.

Jul. 12 2012 10:52 AM
John A

Something that's possible just recently: Very inexpensive Solar fan. Hang a small panel in your window and set the fan on your desk. No power cost.

Jul. 12 2012 10:51 AM

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